West Highland Way
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Hills & moorland
Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.
Firmly established as one of our guests’ favourite trail holidays, this superb walk winds its way from Milngavie to the foot of Ben Nevis, at Fort William. Surrounded by breathtaking mountains, discover the finest Highland scenery from the shores of Loch Lomond to the wilderness of Rannoch Moor. Spectacular scenery all the way.
Our accommodation is at comfortable partner hotels and guesthouses, on or near the route. Each has been selected for their character, quality and their warm welcome and friendly service.
Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow - 1nt
The historic Grand Central Hotel is adjacent to Glasgow Central Station. Dating back to 1883, the hotel has original features including the grand staircase and the magnificent Champagne Central Bar with its domed ceiling and marble floor. The comfortable rooms are equipped with TV, WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities and a hairdryer.
Buchanan Arms Hotel, Drymen - 2nts
A former coaching inn located in the picturesque village of Drymen, the Buchanan Arms Hotel reflects the charm and tranquillity of its surroundings. Along with 52 en-suite rooms, the hotel also has a leisure complex comprising swimming pool, sauna and steam room. All rooms include complimentary toiletries, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, TV, WiFi and telephone.
Ardlui Hotel, Ardlui - 2nts
The Ardlui Hotel commands a magnificent location on the banks of Loch Lomond. Having walked along the eastern shore of the Loch we arrive at the hotel by boat, where a warm welcome is assured from the Squires family. The hotel has 10 en-suite bedrooms. All our rooms have a tea and coffee making facilities,TV, hairdryer and radio. WiFi is available but limited.
Alltshellach, Glen Coe - 4nts
HF Holidays' Country House, Alltshellach, a fine Victorian residence and formerly a bishop’s house, stands amid lawned and wooded grounds that sweep down to the shores of Loch Leven. An imposing background of towering mountains surrounds the loch. The building has a magnificent indoor swimming pool. Rooms include tea and coffee making facilities, TV and hairdryer. It is well equipped with a boot and drying room.
On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.
Day 1: Arrival Day at Glasgow
Check-in at the Grand Central is 15.00 and your leader will meet you prior to dinner for a welcome meeting
Day 2: Milngavie to Drymen
Leaving Milngavie we are into pleasant parkland, woods and fields. The first section to Drymen is an easy walk most of the way. Undulating at first, the path flattens out following the trackbed of the now disused railway line between Glasgow and Aberfoyle. We pass the Dumgoyach Standing Stones, probably dating from the Bronze Age, and also the Glengoyne Distillery, which is well worth a visit if time allows. We pass pretty stone cottages at the hamlet of Gartness, before some minor road walking through rolling farmland leads us into the village of Drymen. 13 miles (21km) with 450 feet (135m) of ascent.
Day 3: Drymen to Rowardennan
We follow forest tracks, paths and minor roads through gently rolling countryside, gradually gaining views of the hills around us, including Ben Lomond to the north. The section over Conic Hill (1,175 feet), involves some 700 feet of ascent, but we are rewarded with fine views of Loch Lomond from the summit. Once past Balmaha we join woodland paths winding pleasantly by the shores of Loch Lomond. We can have welcome refreshments at the end at the Rowardennan Hotel on the edge of the loch. 15 miles (24km) with 1,500 feet (350m) of ascent.
Day 4: Rowardennan to Ardlui
Although low level, this is a tough day. It is however a beautiful walk along this side of Loch Lomond, below Ben Lomond, and quiet once we have left Rowardennan. We have the option of the shore path to Inversnaid, rebuilt in 2014, or the higher forest path. We go through much natural oak woodland, full of bird and animal wildlife. This is an area much associated with the outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor - the path passes close by ‘Rob Roy's Prison’ and ‘Rob Roy's Cave’. At the north east shore we hail a ferry to take us across the loch, to Ardlui. 11½ miles (18.5km) with 1,460 feet (438m) of ascent.
Day 5: Ardlui to Tyndrum
We re-cross the Loch on the ferry to rejoin the path and begin to really travel into the hills, but the walking is much easier. There are excellent view south over Loch Lomond from the side of the small hill of Cnap Mor. A gentle ascent up Glen Falloch takes us past the Falls of Falloch. Near the top of the pass, we join, for the first time, the old 18th century military road built by General Wade and other officers. From now on the walking gets easier, as much of the Way follows this military road almost through to Fort William. 14.5 miles (23km) with 1,550 feet (465m) of ascent.
We stay high above Crianlarich, in forestry that is being sympathetically managed by the Forestry Commission, featuring some interesting and varied tree species, and maintaining an openness allowing good views out over Strath Fillan and the surrounding hills. We drop down to Tyndrum (pronounced "Tyne-drum") a small village, now a busy little tourist centre. The village originally became prosperous from lead mining and the spoil heaps are still clearly visible on the southern hill slopes. More recently it experienced renewed fame as a gold mining centre. Despite its small size it also has the distinction of possessing two railway stations, as the lines from Glasgow to Fort William and Oban diverge at this point.
Day 6: Tyndrum to Inveroran
From Tyndrum we head up over the top of the pass to face the magnificent Beinn Dorain, an imposing hill rising almost 3,000 feet from the valley floor in a single steep and craggy slope. We descend to the wide flat valley floor where we are likely to meet the Highland cattle of the Auch Estate and enjoy easy walking to Bridge of Orchy. We see the last of the railway line to Fort William here as it departs north-eastwards across lonely and uninhabited stretches of Rannoch Moor. A short ascent through forestry takes us out into the open for superb views of the Glen Coe mountains to the north before we drop down to Inveroran. 9 miles (14.5km) with 975 feet (293m) of ascent. This is an easy day, mostly along the good tracks of the military road
Day 7: Inveroran to Kingshouse
We encounter the longest and most exposed stretch of the whole Way, reaching an altitude of almost 1,500 feet amongst the open country of Rannoch Moor. Bad weather can be experienced, with no shelter for more than six miles. We walk over a landscape of wild, open moorland, scenery of heather, rocks and lochans. In good weather it can be a beautiful, if lonely, place with clear views for miles around and encircled by mountains. Eventually we drop down to The Kingshouse Hotel, believed to be one of Scotland's oldest licensed inns. The inn was built in the seventeenth century and is a haven for travellers. 10 miles (16km) with 1,000 feet (300m) of ascent.
Day 8: Kingshouse to Kinlochleven
We are now in the upper end of Glencoe, which is guarded by the imposing rocky mountain of Buachaille Etive Mor (the Great Herdsman of Etive). This is magnificent scenery, which we can take time to admire as we climb the "Devil's Staircase"; a zig-zag track winding its way upwards. From the high point of 1,850 feet at the Staircase summit, also the highest point of the West Highland Way. The way from the top of “Devil’s Staircase” to Kinlochleven holds a sting in the tail; it is a hard road which seems to double back away from Kinlochleven. We descend to Kinlochleven, the former site of Britain's second aluminium smelting plant. The complex was built between 1904 and 1909, although the first aluminium was produced in 1908, in a small temporary factory. On the way we pass close by the water conduit and pipelines bringing water down from Blackwater Reservoir to power the former plant by hydro-electricity. 9 miles (14.5km) with 1,090 feet (327m) of ascent.
Day 9: Kinlochleven to Fort William
A steep but short climb out of Kinlochleven takes us on to easy walking through Lairigmor. There are magnificent mountains on both sides before a final ascent through forestry, cuts across the hillsides bringing us out above Glen Nevis, with spectacular Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain at 4,406 feet, immediately opposite. We then continue down the glen to the end of the walk in Fort William.16 miles (25.5km) with 1,600 feet (480m) of ascent.
The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader with regard to the weather and other external factors
By train to Glasgow:
Our first hotel The Grand Central Hotel is located in Glasgow, next to Glasgow Central Station. There are trains to Glasgow from around the UK which take around 4½ hours from London or just over 3 hours from Manchester.
For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).
By air to Glasgow:
From Glasgow International Airport take the regular airport bus to Glasgow Central station (journey time 30 minutes) www.glasgowairport.com
There are also flights to Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which has its own railway station with frequent trains (journey time 45 minutes to Glasgow Central station), (www.gpia.co.uk).
Return from Alltshellach to Glasgow by bus:
The return journey from Alltshellach to Glasgow can be made using the Scottish Citylink bus, numbers 914 or 915. The nearest stop is North Ballachulish bus stop - the north side of Ballachulish Bridge - about 400 metres walk from Alltshellach. These buses stop at Glasgow Airport, then continue to Glasgow Buchanan Street bus station (approx 10-15 minutes' walk from Glasgow Central station).
See www.citylink.co.uk for the timetable.
Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
- 9 nights' Full Board en-suite accommodation
- The services of an experienced HF Holidays’ Trails leader
- All transport and luggage transfers on walking days
Prices are per person
- Single room: £90 (complete holiday)
If at eight weeks prior to the start of the holiday a sharing partner is unavailable, a single room or room for single occupancy with associated supplement will be allocated to you instead.
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person